The #1 emergency item most sought after in times of disaster is WATER! Just watch the news when a catastrophe hits and what fills shopping carts more than anything else. The most recent headline read: “Ohio water crisis: threat isn’t going away soon” and this happened void of any natural occurrence such as an earthquake or tornado. It was caused by an algae that emits toxins into the water. Boiling the water only made it worse. It intensified the toxin.
One woman being interviewed, in particular, stood out in my mind. I’m sure she echoed the same sentiment of others in other disasters. She flatly said, “I never imagined how much water it takes to meet all the needs we have.” (not verbatim) Now, multiply that a hundred or a thousand fold in extreme crisis.
How much water will we need?
Go without water for a week and see for yourself how much you need for drinking, showering, washing dishes and clothes, “flushing”, cooking, and more. We take it for granted and haven’t estimated the amount we use.
Water: Essential for Life
Most importantly, water is essential for survival. Experts estimate that a person can survive up to a week without it, but there are variables that could lessen that time, such as climate (humidity levels and heat or cold index), altitude, age of the person, gender, amount of body fat, and their general health status. A person may be healthy now but could deteriorate quickly during a disaster because of injury or exposure to something. This is especially compounded if the “patient” is vomiting, has diarrhea, or has a fever. Even taking medications such as diuretics can speed up the need for extra water. Now imagine, you could be in a situation where you have to walk long distances or engage in an excess amount of physical activity. Anyone who has had to walk through the desert or even a concrete city on a very hot day can testify to the need for extra hydration.
According to the Institute of Medicine the following are recommendations for amount needed DAILY (foods high in water content can be included in these amounts):
Men – 3.7 liters
Women – 2.7 liters
Boys between the ages of 9 – 18 need between 2.4 and 3.3 liters
Girls between the ages of 9 – 18 need between 2.1 and 2.3 liters
Children between the ages of 4-8 need approximately 1.7 liters
Toddlers up to age 3 need about 1.3 liters
Pregnant women need 3 liters and nursing moms need 3.8 liters
Now imagine what a liter is. (Visualizing a 2-liter bottle of soda might help.) A liter of fluid = 1 quart or 32 ounces of fluid. Now to understand how much water you will need in total, multiply that by the liter amounts required for the people in your family above. This equals enough for ONE DAY – essential for survival. Then, multiply that again by the number of days you think you’ll be in crisis mode. One standard water bottle is around 17 fl. oz. so a case of bottled water would be gone in no time at all. And don’t forget about all the other uses you will need water for. Chances are, three days of water will not even come close to your overall needs because the worse case scenarios will most likely go on for weeks or months, not days. So it’s important to look at all aspects of water sources, long term containment, and safe drinking recommendations. (Coming soon in another post.)